On Monday, I testified at the capitol in Austin against House Bill 1686, which would prohibit transgender youth from receiving age-appropriate, best-practice, scientifically-based, medically-necessary health care. About 15 hours after I arrived at the capitol, I finally was called to testify. While waiting all day, I heard some of the most disgusting and vile lies, misinformation and rhetoric that I have heard in nearly 40 years as an advocate for our communities. When it was finally my turn, I had to speak up for all of our trans folks. You can read my full testimony below:
“I am an attorney and the CEO of Resource Center. Resource Center has served the LGBTQIA+ community for 40 years, as a front-line responder and service provider even before the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, and continuing ever since. We are the largest direct service provider to the LGBTQIA+ community in Texas, reaching 60,000 people annually.
I am here to express my own disgust and outrage over House Bill 1686 and the harmful lies that are being told about transgender youth and their familiesin an attempt to justify this bill.
More importantly, I carry the voices from some of the hundreds of youth that our organization serves. Please listen to their own words:
- It makes me scared for the future, as someone who plans to leave the state, I fear for the people here.
- It makes me feel unsafe
- It’s made me feel non-human.
- How are we supposed to be land of the free when politicians so carelessly take away the rights of human beings?
- It makes me feel unsafe.
- Now I must fear what will happen to my family just because I exist. All of these bills make me feel unsafe in my life.
- I feel unsafe
- People are making decisions that will forever impact the rest of my life. My identity is not harmful to anybody. Nor will it change if my rights are taken away.
- Politicians make me scared.
- The bills debated by political “leaders” in Texas make me afraid for my life and safety, and these bills could take away a vital source of care for myself and those I hold dear.
Trans kids and their families are not a problem. This proposed legislation is. Mental health distress among transgender and LGBTQIA+ youth is at an all-time high, as you have heard today, in large part due to rhetoric they hear debating their very existence.
I am here to ask you to STOP. STOP spreading falsehoods that cause youth to doubt their self-worth. STOP misinformation. STOP preventing medical professionals from being able to fulfill their legal and professional obligations to provide scientifically-based, best-practice, life-saving medical care to patients.
STOP government overreach. STOP meddling in the personal decisions between a youth and their parents and licensed medical professionals for their healthcare. STOP ignoring proven science that supports the life-saving results of best-practice health care.
This queer person has lived through the AIDS pandemic. Government tried to ignore and erase us then. Guess what? Our community rose up, organized, and fought for our rights harder than ever.
We didn’t go away then, and we aren’t now. Even if you win this battle, you will not silence us. We are strong, and WE VOTE. STOP this nonsense and get to the business of actually helping Texans. It seems that a committee on public health could address REAL issues such as one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country or access to nutritious food.
Oppose H.B. 1686. “
I know that many of you have specific questions about the many proposed bills in the Texas legislature. Unfortunately, there will be bills that do become law. I cannot tell you right now how those might impact our ability to serve clients or how they will impact our daily lives, although the executive team is looking at scenarios to help us plan. The legislative session does not end until May 29th, and a lot will happen between now and then. Our advocacy team generates letters, calls to action, and phone calls to elected representatives. We are meeting with members of the ‘lege. We are submitting written and in-person testimony. (Please follow our social and sign up for advocacy alerts and actions and share with others).
Here is what I do know: Resource Center cannot exist without you, and you are loved. Your existence does not depend on what someone else thinks or says about you. You have inherent worth and are a sacred being. Each of us has something unique and amazing to contribute to Resource Center and to the world, AND you can rely on your work colleagues even when you don’t feel that way. You have a strong foundation to stand upon at Resource Center. If you aren’t feeling it, and the ground under you feels shaky, talk to someone. Do not bear this by yourself.
Know the good that you are, and the good that we do. While this won’t take away what happens in the news and at the legislature, I want you to know that we care about you at Resource Center, and we will, together, weather any storm that comes our way.